The month of January is almost over! How is that battle on overwhelm going? Did you make New Year’s Resolutions to fight it? What were they? Eat healthy? Exercise daily? Go to bed at a decent hour? Spend less time on Facebook? How is that working for you?
If you are like me, you set good intentions at the beginning of the month and now with 26 days in, those good intentions have evaporated or become overwhelmed with daily living. How do you combat overwhelm without beating yourself over your failures? The following 4-step process can lift overwhelm in a way that can improve your chances of a more balanced life approach.
The following steps help you focus on what you need to leave behind in your thinking and surroundings and what you need to take with you into your surroundings. Notice what you want to leave behind and begin to shed the fear/flight response. Replace that thinking and feeling with more positive thoughts and feelings, like joy, peace, gratitude and become intentional about what you are taking with you as you move forward into the future. These positive feelings in return build resiliency.
Step 1 – How can you get quiet in order to do some reflecting?
You will need to have some time to get yourself quiet. I know that’s the first challenge. Start by noticing your breathing to help you get quiet. Is it shallow and rapid? If so, can you take some deeper breaths and slow it down a little? Just by noticing your breathing you can pause a moment and be refreshed. Your brain thinks so much more clearly with more oxygen.
Step 2- What are you grateful for in your life right now?
If that is a hard question for you to answer right now because you’re feeling so overwhelmed, start with the basics, breathing or what you see around you.
Take a few minutes to reflect upon what is really working well in your life right now. If someone asked you what you are grateful for and would want to celebrate, what would you tell them?
Notice what you are wearing. Notice the colors and textures of what you are wearing. How do they feel? How do they look? What about them can you be grateful?
Step 3 What mind chatter is going on that you need to leave behind?
How often do you really stop to listen what you are saying to yourself? I was surprised when I was asked to keep a small journal of my thoughts. I was sooo judgmental of others in my head. I wasn’t saying it to others but I sure had a running dialogue going of how I thought others should be behaving and acting. What an energy waster!
What is weighing you down? What is it about your thinking or emotions, or physical surroundings that you want to leave behind and not continued to expend energy towards? Are you sitting in physical or mental clutter? What can you do about that? Are you cold? Any changes you can make to your comfort level? What is in your control to leave behind so your thinking and feeling can be more joyous and free? Begin to note little things that you can leave behind and not pick up again. It will take intentionality and practice!
Step 4 What thinking and feelings will you take with you?
Once you begin to see what you want to leave behind and shed of your overwhelm, you’ll be surprised at what you notice you want to take with you. For example, when I realized I was being so judgmental, I began to take with me more grace and compassion for myself first of all, and then for others. I took with me acceptance of reality and let go of expectations. I truly believe taking acceptance of reality with me was a huge step in my recovery of anxiety. “It is what it is.”
I am also taking with me a focus on the present moment. My grandchildren are teaching me a lot about that. They notice little details and delight in the smallest things. I want to take with me a focus and joy about the moments in my life. By doing so, I am actually changing my brain pathways and building joy responders. Great reason to enjoy my grandchildren, right?
What about you? How can you begin the practice of leave behind and take with? I can’t wait to hear how you begin to explore possibilities and find more hope in coming out from under your overwhelm.
Nancy Booth is a certified life coach and certified brain-based coach. She loves creating safe spaces for women, especially educators going through life’s transitions to discover and support their visions for health and well-being in an overwhelming world, explore possibilities for next steps and find hope. She writes about taming the overwhelm through connecting to yourself and others, possibilities thinking, and brain-based strategies for hopeful living. You can sign up to receive her weekly blog or contact her to find out ways you can begin to shed overwhelm, explore possibilities and find hope.